Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story
(Sean Howe, 18:02)
Even the Talmud could bear abridgment, and this incredibly detailed history of the life before Stan Lee, the Stan years, the exploitation and clobbering of Kirby, and much much more was not as fun as I'd hoped. It was still an excellent way to spackle over a grave defect in my ignorance of pop culture. Very few of the books, and their authors, sound any happier than PK Dick felt at his hackiest moments.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Radical Acceptance

Radical Acceptance
(Tara Brach, 7:01)
I radically accept this book. But it wasn't easy. I found myself initially quite allergic to a woman who reveals how intimately her early adult life was dominated by a single Svengali guru (who could be Sri Chinmoy, for all that's revealed). But I didn't object to the trajectory of her narrative, and as a concept, radical acceptance deserves wider exposure. I personally prefer to get this via Pema Chodron, but any port in a storm.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Richard Sala's Hypnotic Tales

Hypnotic Tales
(Richard Sala, 120+ pp)
When I looked at the cover, I felt that there was a strong visual similarity with early Lynda Barry. There are indeed ways that Sala's style rhymes with Lynda B. But the content of this graphic novel is an absurdist noir crime story. It's not (just) the visual then that locks me to Lynda Barry's genius.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Harvey Pekar's Cleveland

Cleveland (Harvey Pekar)
The sadsack in love with his town is alas, undercut by his near equal enthusiasm for his government job. I love Cleveland, w/o ever having been there. I appreciated touring the city and its history with the man 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Leaving the Atocha Station

Leaving the Atocha Station
(Ben Lerner, 5:43)
Delightful to read the opening chapters, as the author agonizes about his own poet-worthiness while on a grant to live in Madrid. Having spent a year there post-college, the neighborhood that the author focuses upon is drenched with nostalgia for me. In an uncanny little echo of my own life, I also came from Kansas, and felt sort of lost while living in Spain. At the half-way point, the atrocity of the Al Quaeda attack on the commuter trains erupts, and the book tackles this enormous topic without muffing it. Only after I finished the book did I discover that he's the son of Harriet Lerner, the much-published self-help therapist. I also later found one of his poems, and it sounded sort of flarfy; the anguish of the character concerning whether he's a real poet struck me as a valid angst. Whatever his poetry is like, this book was first rate (worthy of 4 stars).

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Child's Life and Other Stories

A Child's Life and Other Stories
(Phoebe Gloeckner)
Quite disturbing, raw, vivid images. It's not easy to view stories about an unhappy young teen ager who ends up hanging out with drug abusing losers. It's awe-inspiring that these traumatic experiences were transformed into compelling comic art.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Lynd Ward: Six Novels in Woodcuts (Library of America)

Lynd Ward's 2 volumes (edited by Art Spiegelman)
These dense, expressionistic wood block "graphic novels" are great to surf. The first volume (includes 3 novels: God's Man; Madman's Drum; Wild Pilgrimage) were so accessible that I could read them aloud to my 6 year olds. I read the 2nd volume solo (with same Spiegelman intro as vol 1): Prelude to a Million Years; Song Without Words; Vertigo. A rich trove of art compressed to dispel the need for words.

Monday, February 04, 2013

I'm the New Black

I'm the New Black
(Tracy Morgan, 4;12 Abridged)
After hearing Tracy Morgan interviewed by Terri Gross, I was intrigued, esp'ly by the way he named his dark side, Chico Divine. He told her now Tracy Morgan was in charge. Listening to the author read the book is an incredibly direct experience of his particular perspective. I'm not sure how the book would read on paper. He occasionally repeats the same phrase twice, and with each repetition, gives it a different expression. He also covers, in complete honesty, his own rage issues. As a 10 year old, someone stole his Puma sneakers at the public pool. Let the master take it from there; 'I didn’t know who stole them, but I knew that whoever did must love swimming, so the only thing that made sense to me was to shut that pool down. I swam to the middle and took a shit the size of a Milky Way. They shut that place down like the beach in Jaws.' His expression is completely ghetto. "I was the kind of drunk who was a completely different man to when he was sober. And the guy I turned into had a name: Chico Divine. Chico was the motherfucker who came out of the depths of my mind and took over my body after about three drinks. When Chico came out, somebody might get hurt and there was a chance somebody’s sister might get pregnant too." Scary stuff, channeled with complete frankness. I am sure I will quote what he learned from Lorne Michaels:  "We don't go on because we're ready; we go on because it's 11:30."

Friday, February 01, 2013

The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us

The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us
(Chris Chabris & Dan Simons; 9:20)
Scary that I listened to this while driving. I found the exposition and examples quite good.